Sanders pledges to support Democratic nominee in 2020

Sanders pledges to support Democratic nominee in 2020
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (I-Vt.), currently a frontrunner in a field of over a dozen Democrats running for president in 2020, pledged to support the Democratic Party’s eventual presidential nominee should he fall short.

“If we do not win, I will strongly support the Democratic nominee…and hope and believe that others feel exactly the same way. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE must be defeated,” Sanders said Saturday while campaigning in Iowa.

Sanders, who unsuccessfully ran against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDershowitz: 'Too many politicians are being subject to criminal prosecution' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Democrats spar over electoral appeal of 'Medicare for All' MORE in the Democratic primary in 2016, was roundly criticized by the party establishment for what some said was a lackluster effort to support Clinton after it was clear he had fallen short of the needed delegates.

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The Vermont Independent’s party affiliation has long irritated some Democrats who believe Sanders is trying to utilize the party establishment for his gain while rebuffing the party as a whole.

Sanders also vowed he would not go on the offensive against the other Democratic nominees, many of whom are his colleagues in the Senate.

“The nature of our campaign is not belittling people, it’s not opposition research, it’s not attacking other people, but is a serious discussion about the issues facing the American people,” he said.

Several of the Democratic contenders are seeking to differentiate themselves as many angle their appeal toward the party’s progressive base with similar messaging, raising the question if candidates will have to try to set themselves apart on more personal grounds.